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Education in the United States

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For almost 400 years America has seen its citizens educating their children and themselves, though both the scope, structure and quality of education has changed somewhat during that time.

For much of the history of the United States, education of children took place primarily at home, often along with private schools for some, and locally managed and supported schools for others. Education included the general ethos of Christianity and Biblical morality as well as academic subjects. The New England Primer and later, the nation-wide McGuffey's Readers (120+ million copies) were the primary instruments of education, and in helping to form the basic character of the nation. In Colonial America, male literacy appears to have been very high, with self-education being expected, and with relatively inexpensive means being provided to do so.

The Massachusetts School Law of 1642 required education by parents or custodians, and for a type of reform schooling for the disorderly. By 1890, a nationwide system of common schools accessible to almost all, had been realized, with thousands of local schools and nearly one thousand colleges and universities. 95 percent of children between the ages of five and thirteen were enrolled for at least a few months out of the year, though less than 5 percent of adolescents went to high school, and even fewer entered college. Such higher education was not a prerequisite for upward mobility in this era.

Education during this period was yet largely locally managed, with relatively small administration, yet a remarkable uniformity was seen among the nation's schools, both in inculcating morality and the teaching of educational subjects.

Federal funding and control progressively increased, as did the curriculum, but with a decreasing emphasis upon traditional morality. School-led prayer and Bible reading were outlawed in 1962 and 1963, respectively, which many see as contributing to, or being a symptom of, a nationwide decline in morality.


Early American education

While widespread free and inclusive primary public schooling would not begin in America until the late 1800's, the first public school in America was founded April 23, 1635 in Boston, Mass. Boston Latin School was begun by the Puritan preacher John Cotton, who modeled the school after the Free Grammar School in Boston, England, which taught Latin and Greek, these being languages which copies of Biblical manuscripts were written in. The school was publicly funded, with the first classes being held in the home of the schoolmaster Philemon Pormort. Five of the 56 signers of the U.S. Constitution attended Boston Latin: Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Samuel Adams, and William Hooper.[1]

Much due to the Protestant belief that lay people should learn to read the Bible, many colonists pushed for literacy. In 1642, the Massachusetts School Law required that parents and master saw to it that their children could read English and knew the principles of religion and the capital laws of the commonwealth. If any parents were unable to "catechize their children and servants in the grounds and principles of Religion" once a week (at the least), then they were to procure some short orthodox catechism for them to learn from, and to answers question put to them from it by their parents or masters and the Select men when they were tested. In addition, children who could not be made fit for higher employments were to be taught some honest lawful trade profitable for themselves and the Commonwealth. The law also instructed that if the Select men found that parents and masters grew lax in their responsibility and thus their children became "rude, stubborn and unruly," then the government (the Select men with law enforcement) would be obligated to remove such children from the home and place them in a type of reform school where they could receive adequate instruction.

In 1647 the Massachusetts colonial legislature commented that as the "old deluder Satan" had worked to keep the Bible (in the vernacular) from the people in the times before the Protestant Reformation, they passed a law (also known as the Old Deluder Satan Act) that towns of over 50 families should provide a school.[2]

The Puritan preacher Cotton Mather (1663 – 1728) wrote,

A Good School deserves to be call'd, the very Salt of the Town, that hath it:..wherein the Youth may by able Masters be Taught the Things that are necessary to qualify them for future Serviceableness, and have their Manners therewithal well-formed under a Laudable Discipline, and be over and above Well-Catechised in the principles of Religion, Those would be a Glory of our Land, and the preservatives of all other Glory.

When the REFORMATION began in Europe an hundred and fourscore years ago, to Erect Schools everywhere was one principal concern of the Glorious and Heroic Reformers; and it was a common thing even for Little Villages of Twenty or Thirty Families, in the midst of all their Charges, and their Dangers, to maintain one of them. The Colonies of New England were planted on the Design of pursuing that Holy Reformation; and now the Devil cannot give a greater Blow to the Reformation among us, than by causing Schools to Languish under Discouragements....But we shall never long retain the Gospel, without the help of Learning. And if we should have no Regard unto religion, even the outward prosperity of a people, in this World would necessarily require Schools and Learned.[3]

However, education was mainly considered to be a local, or a family responsibility, often using private schools, rather than being an duty of the State. Ralph Walker, author of Old Readers, believes that in this period "children were often taught to read at home before they were subjected to the rigours of school. In middle-class families, where the mother would be expected to be literate, this was considered part of her duties.[4]

In Puritan New England this seems to have been particularly evidenced. In The Intellectual Life of New England Samuel Eliot Morison notes that Boston Latin was "the only public school down to 1684, when a writing school was established; and it is probable that only children who already read were admitted to that . . . . they must have learned to read somehow, since there is no evidence of unusual illiteracy in the town. And a Boston bookseller’s stock in 1700 includes no less than eleven dozen spellers and sixty-one dozen primers." [5]

While Congress declared in the Land Ordinance of 1785 that a section of every township which was surveyed in the public lands in the western territories was to be set aside for the maintenance of public schools, and a similar provision was made in the the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 for the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley regions, neither ordinance was fully implemented.[6]

Robert A Peterson[7] argues,

For two hundred years in American history, from the mid-1600s to the mid-1800s,...America produced several generations of highly skilled and literate men and women who laid the foundation for a nation dedicated to the principles of freedom and self-government.

The private system of education in which our forefathers were educated included home, school, church, voluntary associations such as library companies and philosophical societies, circulating libraries, apprenticeships, and private study. It was a system supported primarily by those who bought the services of education, and by private benefactors. All was done without compulsion. Although there was a veneer of government involvement in some colonies, such as in Puritan Massachusetts, early American education was essentially based on the principle of voluntarism.[8]

Peter Augustine Lawler also writes,

The citizens of New England took care of the poor, maintained the highways, kept careful records and registries, secured law and order, and, most of all, provided public education for everyone—through high school when possible. The justification of universal education was that everyone should be able to read the Bible to know the truth about God and his duties to Him for himself. Nobody should be deceived by having to rely on the word of others; they had the democratic or Cartesian distrust of authority without the paralyzing and disorienting rejection of all authority (DA.2.1.1) That egalitarian religious understanding, of course, was the source of the American popular enlightenment that had so many practical benefits.[9]

Libraries with good books contributed to the literacy of the average American. Desire for books brought a large number of libraries into existence. These included church libraries, which were supported primarily by voluntarism. Non-private, non-church libraries in America were first maintained by membership fees, and by gifts of books and money from private benefactors interested in education. Entrepreneurs also served to fulfill the desire for self-improvement by colonial Americans, providing new services and innovative ways to sell or rent printed matter. [10] Almanacs (usually mainly consisting of miscellaneous information and collections of religious and moral sayings), primers and law book were the mainstay of printing, with the largest category consisting of books on theology. [11]

According to Benjamin Franklin, the North American libraries alone “have improved the general conversation of Americans, made the common tradesmen and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other countries, and perhaps have contributed in some degree to the stand so generally made throughout the colonies in defense of their privileges.[12]

Some contend that in colonial America literacy rates were as high or higher than they are today.[13] Ruth Wallis Herndon, in Literacy among New England's transient poor, 1750-1800, states that by using different sources, a number of "historians have discovered a nearly universal literacy among New England men and varying levels of literacy among New England women in the latter part of the eighteenth century."[14]

However, nationwide access to education was not universal, and was seen to be insufficient by some.

Development of the common school system

Carl F. Kaestle, professor of education, history, and public policy at Brown University, and source for most of this section,[15][16] discusses Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Rush, a Philadelphia physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson wrote from France in 1786, advising a friend to "preach a crusade against ignorance," and support free schools in Virginia. In the early national period leaders of this movement for state systems of common schools came from both the Jeffersonian Republicans and the Federalists. Rush proposed a similar bill for free schools in Pennsylvania.

This expansion was rejected, as it seems that most free citizens saw the patchwork colonial mode of education to be quite sufficient. Countryside schools were financed by such means as local taxes, but also typically required some family means of support, while the agrarian nature of the economy often restricted the number of weeks in the school year. In urban areas churches and other philanthropic groups and responded to the need of the poor by establishing free schools for the moral education of poor children, after the model of English "charity" schools.

As time passed and as concern grew, many cities in the new Republic experimented with a type of charity school, the monitorial school, invented by Joseph Lancaster, a Quaker schoolmaster in England which had become popular there and in Europe, and Latin America in the 1810s and ‘20s. This model encouraged the teaching of less advanced students by those who were more advanced.

Support for a common school continued to gain support, and after some hard-fought battles, from 1837 to 1853, "every state legislature in the North passed into law most of the key features of common free school systems. To prevail in these hard-fought battles, common school advocates, working largely through the Whig Party, had to convince a majority of their compatriots that common schools could play a critical role, not just in providing people a more equal chance at education, but in consolidating the country's culture around republican, capitalist, and Protestant values."

However, in the South, "a regionally strong 19th-century Democratic Party, localism, a laissez-faire tradition about education, and a strong belief in a hierarchical society based on slave labor, combined to thwart the more democratic and middle-class values of the region's school reformers. Free common schools would come to the South only in the aftermath of the 1861-65 Civil War", with racial equality in education taking much longer.

Overall, it was not until after the 1940s that a majority of American teenagers graduated from high school, and unlike today, formal education was not a prerequisite for social and economic mobility.[17]

Education circa 1890

By 1890, schools nationwide saw 95 percent of children between the ages of five and thirteen enrolled for at least a few months out of the year, though less than 5 percent of adolescents went to high school, and even fewer entered college.

In addition, while there existed thousands of local schools, nearly one thousand colleges and universities (of varying quality), and scores of normal schools with trained teachers, education was largely locally managed, as the federal bureau of education, while collecting information about the condition of education, possessed no control over local schools. Education agencies on the state level were small, and its few employees had little or no power over local school districts. School systems in large cities could also function with little oversight, such as in Baltimore, where the public schools in 1890 employed only two superintendents for the entire district of 1,200 teachers.

Despite the lack of centralized administration, public schools across America were notably similar, with children learning both the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the basics of good behavior – the latter being enforced when necessary by corporal punishment. Schools were important community institutions, and reflected the values of of parents and churches, such as honesty, industry, patriotism, responsibility, respect for adults, and courtesy. Memorization, recitation, chants and rhymes were often used in teaching subjects, while solving mathematical problems in one's own head was promoted.

The inculcation of basic education and self-discipline was purposed to promote good moral citizenry, people who would be honestly employed, and make wise and informed choices, and overall progress in an individualistic, competitive and democratic society, and who would contribute to the vitality of their community and country.[18]

Historical nature of education, 1600's - early 1900's

During the colonial period the Bible was “the single most important cultural influence in the lives of Anglo-Americans."[19] Schooling in early America, and for most of its history in primary education, combined education in general Christian morality with standard academic subjects. The Bible was the first book in the classroom, and was central to a child’s education, both for its content and for building skills. Students learned how to read using the Bible, passages were copied to learn penmanship, and a good part of the school day was devoted to memorizing and reciting passages from it.[20] In addition to the Bible, other good books such as Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan and Isaac Watt’s Divine Songs were used.[21]

Early public schools

Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, Volumes 1-2, reports that in the first report of a public school in Washington which they had on file, in 1813 a Mr. Henry Ould states,

55 have learned to read in the Old and New Testaments, and are all able to spell words of three, four, and five syllables; 26 are now learning to read Dr. Watts' Hymns and spell words of two syllables; 10 are learning words of four and five letters. Of 509 out of the whole number admitted that did not know a single letter, 20 can now read the Bible and spell words of three, four, and five syllables, 29 read Dr. Watts' Hymns and spell words of two syllables, and 10 words of four and five letters.”[22]

The Puritan Christian New England Primer was used in New England, which is estimated to have sold upwards to 3,000,000 copies from 1700 to 1850. Introduced in 1690, this reader was used in what now would be the 1st grade, and taught multitudes of children how to read for 200 years, until circa 1900. The alphabet was taught with Bible verses that began with each letter of the alphabet. Lessons had questions about the Bible and the Ten Commandments. An example of the Primer is, A = In Adam's fall, we sinned all. B = Heaven to find, the Bible mind."[23]

In addition, approximately half of all American children learned from the McGuffey Reader, a series of textbooks of which 122 million copies were published (during a time when the population was much less than today, and books were passed on more). The first Reader was published in the 1830's, and was followed by five additional Readers, the last being published in 1885. This was an advanced teaching system for its time, written by William Holmes McGuffey, who later became a Presbyterian minister, and a work which earned him the title, “the Great Schoolmaster of the Nation.” McGuffey believed religion and education were to be interrelated and were essential to a healthy society. McGuffey exalted the Lord Jesus Christ, and used the Bible more than any other source, though the later revised editions (which used McGuffey’s name though he neither contributed to them nor approved their revisions) became more pluralistic in their moral instruction. The Readers were filled with stories of strength, character, goodness and truth, working to instill standards of basic Christian-based morality for more than a century.[24]

McGuffey Readers became the standardized reading text for most schools across the United States, especially throughout the West and South, during the mid to late nineteenth century,[25] [26] and were used widely in America until just after World War I. This resulted in the Readers becoming a unifying force in American culture, giving America a common value-laden body of literary reference and allusion,[27] and “a sense of common experience and of common possession”.[28]

Early elementary schools

The first public elementary schools also taught Christian morality, and even the Unitarian [note 1] Father of the Common School, Horace Mann (4 May 1796 — 2 August 1859), who became Massachusetts Secretary of Education in 1837, evidenced that he rightly understood that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment did not prohibit officially favoring the general, common Christian faith and its morality, but that it forbade official sanction of one particular sect, such as by sanctioning its doctrinal distinctions, stating that “it may not be easy theoretically, to draw the line between those views of religious truth and of Christian faith which is common to all, and may, therefore, with propriety be inculcated in schools, and those which, being peculiar to individual sects, are therefore by law excluded; still it is believed that no practical difficulty occurs in the conduct of our schools in this regard.”[29]

Mann also understood that the “laws of Massachusetts required the teaching of the basic moral doctrines of Christianity.” To critics who were alarmed at the concept of secular schools, he assured that his system "inculcates all Christian morals; it founds its morals on the basis of religion; it welcomes the religion of the Bible...," but he did exhort that Bible reading be without comment to discourage sectarian bickering.[30]

Mann supported prohibition of alcohol and intemperance, slavery and lotteries, [31] and dreaded “intellectual eminence when separated from virtue”, and that education, if taught without moral responsibilities, would produce more evil than it inherited.[32]

While the use of the Bible as a textbook had declined by the 1820s, the reading of it remained a standard practice in public schools, with the contention between Catholics and Protestants in Philadelphia and New York City during the 1840's being which version should be read, which even resulted in riots.[33]

Collegiate education

Reverence and use of the Bible was also prominent in higher education, with the second requirement of Harvard Universities Lawes of 1642 (after requiring literacy in Latin, which language the Scriptures were then mostly translated into), was that "Every one shall consider the main end of his life and studies to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life. (Joh. 17:3)[34]

Overall, the nature of early colleges and universities was religious, and this continued at least until the Civil War. Even State colleges had significant religious (most always Christian) components, such as mandatory religion courses and attendance at chapel services, while large numbers of their faculties had formal religious training. [35]

Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858 - January 6, 1919), the 26th president of the United States (1901-1905), can be seen expressing the importance of the Bible in education:

  • A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.
  • To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.
  • A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.
  • There is not in all America a more dangerous trait than the deification of mere smartness unaccompanied by any sense of moral responsibility.[36]

However, education also was taking upon itself a life of its own, in which it no longer was an instrument to help make society better in according with Christian ethos under God, but instead higher education in particular essentially became to be seen by many as a secular Tower of Babel, offering to making men as elite gods in creating a utopia unbound by traditional and Biblical morality and principals. As early as 1803, Princeton professor Samuel Miller (1769-1850) warned,

...the century under review has given birth to a doctrine, which, though noticed in a former chapter, is yet too remarkable and too pregnant with mischief to be suffered to pass without more particular consideration in the present. It is, that Education has a kind of intellectual and moral omnipotence;...that by improving its principles and plan, human nature may, and finally will, reach a state of absolution perfection in this world, or at least go on to a state of unlimited improvement. In short, in the estimation of those who adopt this doctrine, man is the child of circumstances; and by meliorating these, without the aid of religion, his true and highest elevation is to be obtained; and they even go so far as to believe that, by means of the advancement of light and knowledge, all vice, misery and death may finally be banished from the earth.[37]

Modern American education

In 1962 (in Engel v. Vitale) and in 1963, (in Abington versus Schempp) respectively, officially sanctioned prayer and devotional Bible reading were outlawed by the U.S Supreme Court in America public schools. This decision, coming over 170 years after the First Amendment was adopted (Dec. 15, 1701), is seen by some to essentially be expressing a new “revelation” on what the Founders meant by it. Fisher Ames, the founding father who offered the final wording of the First Amendment, wrote an article for a national magazine in 1801, protesting the increasing marginalization of the Bible in the classroom, arguing, “Why then, if these new books for children must be retained, as they will be, should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book?” [38]

When the Engel v. Vitale case was decided, an estimated 75% of the school systems in the South had religious services and Bible readings.[39]

Employment, enrollment and expenditures

The National Center for Education Statistics (U.S. Department of Education) provides the following selected data:

In fall 2008, about 74.1 million people were enrolled in American schools and colleges.[40]

In 2008, approximately 4.6 million people were employed as elementary and secondary school teachers or as college faculty, in full-time equivalents. A total of 5.2 million were employed in other professional, administrative, and support staff at educational institutions. In the fall of 2008, there were a projected 15.3 public school pupils per teacher, down from a previous 16.4 public school pupils per teacher in 1998. The average salary for public school teachers was $50,816 in 2006–07, approximately 3 percent higher than in 1996–97, inflation adjusted.

Enrollment in public schools between 1985 and 2008 was a 29 percent increase in elementary enrollment (prekindergarten through grade 8), largely due to enrollment in prekindergarten which increased 611 percent between 1985 and 2006. Public high school enrollment saw a 20 percent increase, though it declined 8 percent from 1985 to 1990.

The percentage of young adults (25- to 29-year-olds) who had completed high school in 2008 was about the same as it was in 1998 (88 percent in both years), while the percentage of the adult population 25 years of age and over who had completed high school rose from 83 percent to 87 percent

College enrollment was a projected 18.2 million in fall 2008, higher than in any previous year except 2007 (table 3). College enrollment is expected to continue setting new records throughout the fall 2009 through fall 2017 period. Between fall 2007 and fall 2017, enrollment is expected to increase by 10 percent.

The number of associate's degrees was 27 percent higher in 2006–07 than in 1996–97, while the number of bachelor's degrees was 30 percent higher, with females earning 57 percent. The number of master's degrees was 44 percent higher, and the number of doctor's degrees was 32 percent higher.

Expenditures for public and private education, from prekindergarten through graduate school (excluding postsecondary schools not awarding associate's or higher degrees), are estimated at $1,017 billion for 2007–08. Expenditures of elementary and secondary schools are expected to total $631 billion, while those of degree-granting postsecondary institutions are expected to total $386 billion. Total expenditures for education are expected to amount to 7.4 percent of the gross domestic product in 2007–08, about 0.5 percentage points higher than in 1997–98.

Proficiency scores

The average reading proficiency score of 12th-graders was 6 points lower in 2005 than in 1992, with 12th-grade females scoring 13 points higher than males in 2005.

In 2003, 4th-graders in the United States scored better in mathematics than 13 out of 24 other participating educational systems.

In 2006, the average score of U.S. 15-year-olds in mathematics literacy was 474 (out of a possible 1,000), which was lower than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average of 498.

The average score of 15-year-olds in the United States in science literacy was lower than the average score in 16 of the other 29 OECD countries.

Educational Technology

The number of computers in public schools has increased. In 2005, the average public school contained 154 instructional computers, compared with 90 in 1998. One useful technological advance that has come to classrooms following the introduction of computers has been connections to the Internet. The percentage of instructional rooms with access to the Internet increased from 51 percent in 1998 to 94 percent in 2005.

Quality of modern American education

Many have voiced concern that the level of education in America has fallen, both academically and morally. The 1983 report, A Nation At Risk[41] sent alarm throughout the educational system, that the nation's schools were exhibiting a serious failure to educate, though some of the data is disputable. The report led to energetic reform efforts, but they are criticized by some as showing little overall improvement, despite federal K-12 education spending growing from $16 billion in 1980 to nearly $72 billion in 2007. E.D. Hirsch Jr. of Education Week,, states that "the best single gauge of overall national school effectiveness—the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test of 12th graders—has remained flat, and has even declined slightly", and sees a lack of emphasis upon Elementary school education.E.D. Hirsch Jr., [42]

Home schooling is seen by many parents as enabling a better education for their children, while others look to charter schools. A 20/20 report by John Stossel argues that public schools are a monopoly which subsidizes an inferior standard of education than that which competitive school systems produce.[43]

As incentives to correct sliding academic scores increase, so has the incidence of cheating by educators.[44][45] Investigations in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia and elsewhere in 2010 year have pointed to cheating by educators tampering with children’s standardized tests. After Economist Steven D. Levitt and a colleague studied answer sheets from Chicago public schools after the introduction of high-stakes testing in the 1990s, he concluded that 4 percent to 5 percent of elementary school teachers cheat.[46]

Various modern education statistics

America’s top math students rank 25th out of 30 countries when compared with top students elsewhere in the world.[47]

The national high school graduation rate is only 70 percent, with states ranging from a high of 84 percent in Utah to a low of 54 percent in South Carolina.[48]

2,500 educators (three for every school day) from 2001 through 2005 were punished for sexual misconduct, 80 percent of those being to students.[49]

In 1940, teachers listed the following concerns (in order of magnitude) that interfered with a child's education: (a) talking out of turn; (b) chewing gum; (c) making noise; (d) running in the halls; (e) getting out of line; (f) wearing improper clothing and; (g) not putting paper in the wastebasket. Today, teachers rank the following concerns (in order of magnitude) which interfere with a child's education: (a) drug abuse; (b) alcohol abuse; (c) teen pregnancy; (d) suicide; (e) rape; (f) robbery and: (g) assault.[50]

A 2009 survey of almost 30,000 high school students nationwide found that 30% admitted to stealing from a store within the past year (19 percent who attend religious schools). 23% said they stole from a parent or relative. More than 83% stated they lied to a parent about something significant. 42 confessed that they sometimes lied to save money (up from 395 in 2006). 64 percent had cheated on a test in the past year (up from 60 percent two years earlier) and 38 percent had cheated more than once. More than 36% had used the Internet to plagiarize. 26% also confessed to lying on at least one survey question. However, 93% agreed, "I am satisfied with my own ethics and character," and 77% affirmed , "When it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know." [51]

Nearly half (47 percent) of college freshmen enrolled in 2005 had earned an average grade of A in high school, compared to 2-in-10 (20 percent) in 1970. The majority (79 percent) of freshmen in 1970 had an important personal objective of “developing a meaningful philosophy of life.” By 2005, the majority of freshmen (75 percent) said their primary objective was “being very well off financially.” [52] [53]

By 2009, nearly 66 percent of seniors in high school failed to study even six hours a week, a figure which has risen steadily since 1987. [54]

The National Survey of Student Engagement found in 2009 that 62 percent of college students studied 15 hours a week or less, yet they took home primarily As and Bs on their report cards.[55]

From 1960 to 2010 the number of hours that the average college student - off all ability levels and from liberal arts to masters colleges - studies each week has been steadily dropping. In 1961 The average student at a four-year college studied about 24 hours a week versus an average of just 14 hours today. The greatest decline in student study time took place between 1961 and 1981, before computers became common in colleges. The researchers suggest the cause is the growing power of students, and the unwillingness of professors to challenge them. [56]

Of 100 colleges and universities graded on their general education requirements by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), 42 institutions received an D or F for requiring two or fewer subjects, while 25 of them received an F for requiring one or no subjects. Only 5 institutions received an A for requiring six general education subjects. Average tuition and fees at the 11 schools that require no subjects was $37,700; average tuition at the five schools that require six subjects is $5,400.[57][58]

Enrollment has increased 70.6 percent since 1990, from 135,000 to 230,000, at the 102 Evangelical schools belonging to the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities.[59] .

During the same period, enrollments at public colleges increased by 12.8 percent, and at private colleges the increase was 28 percent. USA Today Dec. 14. 2005 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press [60]

The average ACT (American College Testing) score of homeschooled students in 2009 was higher than the national average.[61]

In a nationwide study conducted by Dr. Brian D. Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, Homeschoolers were found to have scored 34-39 percentile points higher than the norm on standardized achievement tests.[62]

Ideology in modern education

In addition to purely academic teaching, education forms a part in developing a moral and political worldview. In many countries formal religious instruction is part of public education, while the United States, which holds to separation of church and state, no longer formally engages in such. However, it is argued by conservatives that the modern degree of exclusion of religious belief from the State was not the historical norm.[63][64] One example invoked in support of this contention is that an estimated 75 percent of the school systems in the South had religious services and Bible readings as late as 1962, when in Engel versus Vitale, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that school-sponsored prayer was unconstitutional.[65] It is also argued that it is impossible to completely separate an educational system from moral beliefs,[66] and that the modern divorcement of religion from education constitutes an official "establishment of a religion of secularism" - a term used by U.S. Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart in dissenting from the decision rendered on June 17, 1963 in Abington School versus Schempp, which outlawed State-sponsored Bible reading in public schools.[67] [68]

Education in America, especially as its higher level, is typically seen by conservatives as promoting liberalism and helping to promote moral degeneration. A (disputed) study showed that 50% of American college faculty identified themselves as Democrats and only 11% as Republicans (with 33% being Independent, and 5% identifying themselves with another party). 72% described themselves as "to the left of center," including 18% who were strongly left. Only 15% described themselves as right of center, including only 3% who were "strongly right."[69][70] [71]

Additionally, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute conducted extensive surveys in 2006 and 2007 of 14,000 college freshmen and seniors at fifty colleges nationwide, aimed at determining the impact a college education has on civic knowledge. The study resulted in the average freshman and the average senior scoring just over 50% on a sixty-question multiple-choice exam on fundamental knowledge of America’s history and institutions. An additional survey of 2,508 American adults resulted in the average college graduate scoring 57% in a thirty-three-question basic civics test, correctly answering only four questions more than the average high school graduate.

While scores indicated a college education resulted in little advance in knowledge of American history and institutions, an often significant increase in favoring liberal ideology was seen over those who were not college graduates. In addition, those with the highest degrees were the most liberal.[72]

James Piereson, in analyzing changes in higher education in America, comments on the growth of the liberal university, and which was then displaced by the left university during the revolutionary years of the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, with its alterations becoming institutionalized in the years that followed. Some of the noted resultant changes are that,

single-sex colleges all but disappeared; college regulation of student morals disappeared as well; government regulation of employment expanded, putting pressure on institutions to hire women and minorities for faculty positions; the line between teaching a subject matter and advocating political positions was blurred or even eliminated altogether as the new campus radicalism asserted that all teaching is political in nature; the liberal underpinnings of academic culture--the freedom to teach and conduct research--were attacked and eroded in the name of political correctness; the unifying character of the humanities was subverted and discredited when they were said to represent an oppressive tradition formed by white European males; new fields, usually with ideological preconceptions, were created outside the traditional departments and areas of study, thus expanding the positions available for radical faculty; serious academic requirements, including foreign language proficiency, were softened or eliminated.

...the radicals of the 1960s went further to launch a wholesale attack on American culture and the middle-class way of life, which they condemned as repressive and, worse, boring. The cultural radicalism of the 1960s, derived from the Beats of the 1950s, was so appealing to the new campus left because it promised something beyond political reform--namely, a different way of life with a revised set of morals...[73]

Harvard University, which has produced four students who ran for President since 1978, two successfully, is one of many universities that has been seen by conservatives as engaging in purposely promoting politically correct liberal ideology, and censuring those who oppose it. One author, John LeBoutillier, a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, charged that his Alma Mater harbors "a bunch of liberal hypocrites bent on destroying the very system which allows them to live so comfortably", and is turning out well-trained technocrats "woefully short on conscience". [74][75] After 35 years at Harvard, Harvard law professor Richard D. Parker noted, “On this faculty, there are around 100 professors or assistant professors, and of that 100, I think you’d have to estimate there would be maybe eight registered Republicans." “I’m a registered Independent…and there’s on one else in the 100 who would identify as a populist.”[76]/

Noted conservative author David Horowitz, in contending against the radical politicization of universities, expresses that during the last several decades a significant transformation in America has overall occurred at the university level, with the rebellious ethos of the Vietnam era becoming part of the college curriculum. As part of this, multitudes of faculty members forsook purely academic pursuits to engage in overtly promoting their liberal agenda, with certain professors even sounding like terrorists, and who were largely, if not uniformly, supported for doing so, while some colleges also paid roving radicals to teach, due to their ideology. Horowitz comments that this "intellectual movement created has been so powerful that it has affected the educational philosophy of the institutions themselves."[77]

A potential further issue is that of the effect of subsidizing education. In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama called for providing complete "forgiveness" of student loans to students who spend 10 years (with 120 continuous payments) employed in public service. This would be an extension of the 2007 College Cost Reduction Act, which took effect in July 2009. Public service includes government and non-profit work, including those inculcating liberal ideology, but excludes employment in religious instruction or proselytization.[78] In addition to increasing the national debt, this provision may be seen as being conducive to further promoting the liberal entitlement mentality, and populating government with those who often manifest and propagate the same.

External links


  1. Unitarianism at the time was a means of being called Christian and overall upholding a good degree of Biblical morality, while denying the divinity of Christ and plenary Divine inspiration of Scripture. It has since become a stronghold of modern immoral liberals.


  3. Mather, Cotton, The Education of Children
  4. Ralph Walker, Old Readers, in Early American Life, October, 1980, p. 54.
  5. Samuel Eliot Morison, The Intellectual Life of New England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1965), pp. 71, 72.
  6. Kingwood college library, 1800-1810, Education
  7. Headmaster of The Pilgrim Academy, Egg Harbor City, New Jersey
  8. Education in Colonial America, Freeman ideas on liberty, September 1983 • Volume: 33 • Issue: 9.
  9. Praising the Puritans, first Principles, Thu. 2nd December, 2010Thu. December 2nd, 2010.
  11. history of publishing Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  12. Carl and Jessica Bridenbaugh, Rebels and Gentlemen (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 99
  13. Rousas John Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education, (Nutley, N.J.: The Craig Press, 1963, 1979), p. 330
  14. Ruth Wallis Herndon, 'Literacy among New England's transient poor, 1750-1800, Journal of Social History, Vol. 29, 1996
  15. U.S. Department of State publication, Historians on America
  17. Nicholas Lemann, The structure of success, August, 1995
  18. Diane Ravitch, “Left Back A Century of Failed School Reforms” Simon & Schuster
  19. Lawrence A. Cremin, American Education: The Colonial Experience, 1607-1789. (New York: Evanston and London: Harper and Row, 1970), p. 40
  20. PBS, The Story of American education: The Evolving Classroom'
  21. Elizabeth McEachern Wells, Divine Songs by Isaac Watts (Fairfax, Va.: Thoburn Press, 1975), p. 11
  22. [( , “Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, Volumes 1-2], p. 9 (Columbia Historical Society Washington, D.C.)
  23. The Honorable Judge Robert Ulrich Chief Justice, Missouri Court Of Appeals, Western District
  25. Henry H. Vail, A History of the McGuffey Readers
  26. McGuffey's Reader
  27. Cranney, A. Garr, 'Noah Webster and William Holmes McGuffey: The Men and Their Contributions to Reading
  28. Historian Henry Steele Commager
  29. Stephen V. Monsma, J. Christopher Soper, “The Challenge of Pluralism: Church and State in Five Democracies”, The Unites States, cp. 2, p. 21
  30. Mann, Twelfth Annual Report for 1848 of the Secretary of the Board of Education of Massachusetts. Reprinted in Blau 183-84
  32. William Jeynes, “American educational history: school, society, and the common good,” p. 149, 150
  33. The Bible." American History Through Literature, Ed. Janet Gabler-Hover and Robert Sattelmeyer. Gale Cengage, 2006. 2006. 8 Nov, 2010
  35. Ringenberg, 1984; Marsden and Longfield, 1962; Ronald W. Fagan and Raymond G. DeVries, The practice of sociology at Christian liberal arts colleges and universities; The American Sociologist, June, 1994
  37. Daniel Lattier, A 200 Year-Old Warning about Education in America, Mon. 20th July, 2015Mon. July 20th, 2015.
  38. Fisher Ames- Bible in the classroom. Notices of the life & Character of Fisher Ames; Boston: T.B. West & Co. 1809 pp. 134-135
  39. Colliers 1961 Yearbook p. 224
  40. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Projections of Education Statistics to 2017; and unpublished projections and estimates.
  41. A Nation At Risk, April 1983
  42. An Epoch-Making Report, But What About the Early Grades?,, April 23, 2008
  43. John Stossel's Stupid in America, How Lack of Choice Cheats Our Kids Out of a Good Education
  44. When test scores seem too good to believe, USA Today, 3/17/2011
  45. Investigation into APS cheating finds unethical behavior across every level, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/6/2011
  46. New York Times, Under Pressure, Teachers Tamper With Tests, June 10, 2010
  47. Strong American Schools analysis of data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Based on data from Volume 2, table 6.2a (p. 227)
  48. Education Week. (2007, June 12). Diplomas Count 2007: Ready for What? Preparing Students for College, Careers, and Life after High School
  49. Associated Press investigation
  50. William Kilpatrick; “Why Johnny Can't Tell Right from Wrong, pg. 64. (Simon & Schuster, 1992)
  51. The Ethics of American Youth, Josephson Institute
  52. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007, (Table 274)
  54. Survey data gathered by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program, or CIRP. Reported by the Boston Globe; Home / Ideas, "What happened to studying?", July 4, 2010
  55. Reported by the Boston Globe; Home / Ideas, "What happened to studying?", July 4, 2010
  56. According to time-use surveys analyzed by professors Philip Babcock, at the University of California Santa Barbara, and Mindy Marks, at the University of California Riverside. Reported by the Boston Globe; Home / Ideas, "What happened to studying?", July 4, 2010
  57. Walter E. Williams , professor of economics at George Mason University
  59. Higher Education Research Institute at the UCLA; USA Today Dec. 14, 2005
  60. CULTURE DIGEST, UCLA study says major media outlets are liberal; Christian colleges enjoy growth spurt, Dec 28, 2005
  61. Avg. ACT Score of Homeschoolers Beats Nat'l Avg., Aug. 27 2009
  62. Study: Homeschoolers Scoring 'Well Above' Public School Peers, Aug. 11 2009
  63. Honorable Judge Robert Ulrich Chief Justice, Missouri Court Of Appeals, Western District, Were the Founding Fathers Christian?
  65. Colliers 1961 Yearbook p. 224
  66. Cause and Effect: The Bible, the Educational System, and Its Influence
  68. Stephen V. Monsma, J. Christopher Soper, The Challenge of Pluralism: Church and State in Five Democracies, p. 27
  69. North American Academic Study Survey (NAASS) of students, faculty and administrators at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada 1999. The Berkeley Electronic Press
  72. Intercollegiate Studies Institute, The Shaping of the American Mind.
  73. James Piereson, The Left University, part VI, The Weekly Standard, October 3, 2005 Volume 011, Issue 03.
  74. Time magazine, People, Aug. 21, 1978
  75. LeBoutillier, Harvard hates America (1978)
  77. David Horowitz, The professors: the 101 most dangerous academics in America, pp. 9-15
  78. Section 685.219—Public Service Loan, p. 15.27


  • David Horowitz, The professors: the 101 most dangerous academics in America.
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